What to watch for: City v Newcastle

Just over a week since the teams met in the Hunter Valley, Melbourne City FC and Newcastle Jets will again do battle at AAMI Park on Friday night.

The former’s 4-2 victory in the teams’ recent meeting will provide them with the mental edge over their opposition as the City boys continue to vie for top spot in the A-League Men.

Here’s what you should be watching for when the teams meet on Friday:

Another high-scoring affair?

It was fortunate that City had a significant lead throughout most of the last encounter against the Jets so that fans were able to enjoy the goalscoring free-for-all without too much fear that we’d be made to pay in points.

It seems, however, that an equally high-scoring rematch looks likely, especially after that 4-2 result last time out.

The competing teams remain the league’s two highest-scoring sides per game and still have just one clean sheet apiece this season. Newcastle’s defence is also the leakiest on a per-game basis, letting in an average of 1.78 goals every match.

Whilst some fans might just be happy with a three-point performance regardless of the scoreline, others will surely feel that City needs to place an emphasis on defensive improvement, given our lack of clean sheets.

Hopefully, we’ll still see a high-scoring affair – one that is dominated entirely by a free-scoring but defensively-sound City side that can secure an all-important clean sheet on its way to a big win.

Florin at his finest

Now in his fourth season at the Club, Florin Berenguer has long gone under the radar amidst an influx of more widely-acclaimed foreign attacking midfielders over the years, but – after helping City to secure a historic league double last season – it appears that 2021/22 could be the Frenchman’s year.

With two goals and two assists already, the 32-year-old has reached his goal involvements tally from the past two seasons and has established himself as a key member of Patrick Kisnorbo’s starting XI, resisting staunch competition for his position ahead of Marco Tilio and Manuel Pucciarelli.

Much like Mathew Leckie, Berenguer has particularly excelled since City’s strong run of form from late January, picking up all four of his goal involvements in his past five games, and currently ranks in the top 10 for crosses and chances created in the league.

Whether City’s return to form has elevated Berenguer’s game to a new level or vice versa, discussion around City’s Socceroos front three has quickly expanded to a frightening front four, deservedly including the Frenchman who hopefully is only just getting started in Season 2021/22.

The head-to-head record to tilt further in City’s favour?

The old disclaimer does ring true – that past returns aren’t a reliable indicator of future performance – but the Melbourne City vs Newcastle Jets matchup has certainly been one that has historically been fruitful for our boys, especially at AAMI Park.

Our winning percentage in the fixture overall (50%) is our highest against all existing A-League Men opponents other than recent entrants Western United (62.5%)and Macarthur FC (66.7%) and the City boys have been particularly strong at home in the fixture over the years; until a dead rubber loss in Round 23 last season, we’d won the previous five straight at AAMI.

With an energetic home crowd at their backs for what will be an exciting Friday night clash, the City boys have every chance of tilting the head-to-head record further in their favour as they continue their title defence.